Tag Archives: birth certificates

Ordering two birth certificates for my Christmas Tree Project

8 Oct

Last night I ordered two birth certificates from the GRO as part of my Christmas Tree Project. Both were in an attempt to find the maiden names of two of my 4x great grandmothers.

The first was for William GEERING, my 3x great grandfather (who may or may not have married Ellen NICHOLLS). His birth was registered in the Lewes Registration District in Q3 1843. I am sure it is the right William GEERING because I have his baptism in Lewes around the same time.

The only problem with this one was reading the page reference, it looks like 383 to me, but that middle number is not clear. I am expecting that it will show his mother’s maiden name as RICHARDSON, as that is the closest match I can find for a marriage between Richard GEERING and Eliza.

The marriage took place in Brighton on the 7th June 1829. To be honest if the marriage was in Lewes, Sussex I would probably have accepted it, but Brighton is just that bit further away so I want to be certain.

The second certificate is for Alfred George MITCHELL, he was the younger brother of my 3x great grandmother Harriet MITCHELL. His birth was registered in the Cuckfield Registration District in Q1 1841.

I wouldn’t normally bother with getting the birth certificates for siblings of my ancestors, unless I was doing an in depth study of the family, but Harriet was born three or four years before the start of civil registration in 1837. Annoyingly I already have the birth date for Alfred George MITCHELL from his baptism record, but he was the easiest of Harriet’s brothers and sisters to locate in the indexes.

I am expecting this one to show that his mother’s maiden name was SMITH. My heart sank when I was searching for possible marriages and found the most likely one was between George MITCHELL and Mary SMITH in Cuckfield, Sussex on the 29th September 1828.

I suppose it inevitable that I would come across a SMITH in my direct ancestry eventually, I just hope there weren’t too many SMITHs in that part of Sussex at that time.

Four reasons you might need to buy a birth certificate

6 May

Here are four real life examples (from my family tree) of why you might need to order a birth certificate for one of your ancestors.

Often I find that it is not necessary to order a birth certificate to move your family history forward (or backward). Names of parents and often exact birth dates can often be found in other sources like baptism registers.

All the four examples relate to finding the individual’s parents, rather thanĀ  finding an exact place or date of birth, which will not necessarily be the key to moving your family tree to the next stage.

Illegitimacy – my grandfather was illegitimate and no-one knew his father’s name, or even if he had known it, and it was too late to ask. In a situation like this it is important to check every possible source for clues. Times changed, and what had been forgotten (or hidden) now, may have been well known and recorded almost a century ago. Unfortunately in this case his father was not named on the certificate, but you never know unless you check.

Conflicting Information – my great grandmother didn’t look like she was going to cause me any problems. We (that is the family) knew who her parents were and she was shown as their daughter on the census. However when I found her baptism record she had different parents, her aunt and uncle! Her birth certificate showed that her parents were who we thought they should be, so why the baptism was different is still a mystery.

To Reach the Census Years – the problem with my other grandfather was that he was born after the latest census that was available at the time, so although I had a pretty good idea who and where his parents were and could find them in the census, before I could go any further I had to make sure I was heading in the right direction, especially as the surname was quite common.

Parents Died Young – my grandmother’s parents had both died relatively young (her father died when she was about five and her mother when she was around sixteen) so details about them were understandably vague, and again it was too late to ask anyone. Her birth certificate was enough to get my research started.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, there are probably many other good reasons which you have come across in your research, please feel free to share them in a comment below.

How to find the cheapest English and Welsh birth, marriage and death certificates on the internet

28 Apr

Everyone should already know this, this is nothing new and there is no big secret to paying less for birth, marriage and death certificates, but I feel it cannot be said often enough. The cheapest and easiest place online to order copies of English and Welsh civil registration documents is the General Register Office website.

The Directgov website will give you all the details including cost, references needed, alternative methods of ordering and delivery times etc. on the Order birth, marriage or death certificates page.

Certificates can be supplied even if you don’t have the index reference (for a slightly higher price) but many of the indexes have already been transcribed on FreeBMD so it should be possible in many cases to find the reference yourself, free of charge also.

Birth, marriage and death certificates are one of the most important types of record for English and Welsh family history researchers, but please don’t spend a fortune on them, use the official website.

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